In a desperate search for warmth this horrid winter, may we suggest you look towards Mbombela (Nelspruit) on 28 July. 

The province of Mpumlanga enjoys a more temperate climate devoid of snowy conditions and this year is no exception. While Gauteng freezes, the people of Mbombela are breezing around in their shorts and Tees.


The big attraction is the Mbombela Music Festival taking place in association with Amstel Lager and White Star Maize Meal. Last year’s inaugural festival was a huge success.

The line-up is strong and features Zakes Bantwini, Big Nuz, Toya Delazy, Teargas and Black Motion.

But what has everyone talking, including a few Gauteng music fans, is the Amstel Golden Hour which features TKZee.

The veteran trio will be appearing on stage with an 18-piece orchestra. It will be a historic moment as this has never before been done by a kwaito act.

TKZee member Zwai Bala is very excited about it all. In fact, this is right up his street because the classically trained musician, musical director, producer and composer says he composed many a TKZee song with string arrangements in mind.

“Amstel has given us an opportunity to really give us the show of our dreams,” he said.

“I am orchestrating now and working on the string arrangements which I had in mind when I first wrote the TKZee tracks all those years ago. We have a whole brass section as well as a string section consisting of violins, cellos and violas.

“The audience is going to experience TKZee music in all its majesty.”

He said the group and the orchestra would start rehearsals next week: “The orchestra members read music and we pretty much know our stuff after all these years so it’s going to be relatively easy. Ultimately we are all musicians so we are going to enjoy the whole process.”

He said that while TKZee’s music lent itself to an orchestral interpretation, some other kwaito did not. “If you only have one chord, what is the point?” he reasoned.

“For me as a musical director it’s not about what I like, it’s about what works. We are also adding songs we don’t ordinarily perform.”

With so much effort going into this historic performance, it seems a pity to do it as a once-off gig.

“Well, the nice thing is that when it’s done, it’s done, so we can do it again. We are certainly planning to record it and are trying to finalise filming the concert.”

Besides working on this concert, Zwai recently completed recording his first solo album, The Indigo Child, and is studying at the Berkley School of Music in Boston, in the US.

“The kind of work I am doing now is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am studying orchestration for television and film. I would love to have a little room in my house where I can just work on those kind of projects.”

His new album is set for release next month through the Bala Brothers label.


• Gates for the Mbombela Music Festival at Mbombela Stadium Precinct open at 2pm. Programme starts at 4pm with local support acts. Pre-sale tickets: for R70. Tickets at the gate on the day: R100. This family-friendly music festival also offers food stalls, bars and a braai area.